Why the story contained in Sura al-Fil of the Qura could not be historically true, which Muhammad likely copied from pagan poetry, and why this story turns Allah into a supporter of idolatry...
Islamic legends tell us about this chapter, i.e. Sura al-Fil, of the Quran that there was an historical event transpired before Islam and Allah saved His house from marauders, who had a big army along with elephants, and were rushing toward His house (Kaaba in Mecca) to destroy it completely. But they failed to succeed in their mission as Allah toppled their army, by sending martins and birds, clutching pebbles in their claws and beak, to throw upon the army of Abraha; this destroyed them before they could reach their destination. Muslim scholars in the world are at consensus and agree with this fairytale and accept it as a historical event.
The criteria of this story will be judged on the behavior of elephant’s daily life and the reason why this story had been added in the Quran.
Geography and Climate of the Arabian Peninsula
Most parts of Arabia are bleak deserts and desolate, and ripples of sands extend beyond the horizons. Deserts have many moods: it may become vicious, menacing and treacherous like a turbulent ocean. Whole caravans of men, camels and horses are said to have disappeared in it, as if devoured by the cruel and hungry sands.
On the other hand, its climate varies on the temperature that seldom falls below 42° C, but relative humidity is usually more than 85% and frequently 100% for extended periods. Sometimes, sandy wind blows are unbearable, especially during summer. Its terrain remains fruitless and barren most of the year due to lack of rain. A uniform climate prevails in Najd, Al Qasim Province, and the great deserts. The average summer temperature is 45° C, but readings of up to 54° C are common. The heat becomes intense shortly after sunrise and lasts until sunset. Unfortunately, there is no any famous lake or river in entire peninsula like Euphrates and Tigris in Mesopotamia (present Iraq) and river Nile in Egypt had enhanced a remarkable feature in their glorious civilizations. Thus, it is not difficult to understand why the Arabs failed to play any significant role in creating a civilization.
This was the main reason the Arabs were mostly illiterate. Those, who knew to read and write, were considered elite and most revered by their clans. Poetry was their hobby in order to attain some fame and applause by their listeners.
Elephant’s Behavior and their Diet
First of all, elephants are considered to be the largest and heaviest animals or mammals on earth. Its gigantic figure always catches the eye of spectators. Elephants have also been used in wars and battles in olden days. For example, when Alexander the Great invaded India, the inhabitants, to fend off their opponents, brought giant elephants to put psychological pressure on their opponents. Indian kings often sat on elephants as they led their army to battles.
It is said that elephants require about 68.4 to 98.8 L (18 to 26 gal.) of water daily, but may consume up to 152 L (40 gal.). An adult male elephant can drink up to 212 L (55 gal.) of water in less than five minutes. They also eat between 149 and 169 kg (330-375 lb.) of vegetation daily. Sixteen to eighteen hours, or nearly 80% of an elephant’s day is spent eating. Elephants consume grasses, small plants, bushes, fruit, twigs, tree bark, and roots.
Given this geography and climate of Arabia at that time, where water was scarce, isn’t it strange that someone would want to use elephants, which require water excessively, to destroy the Kaaba? Can a sane person believe the story that from a long distance, under the scorching sun, the army of Abraha on elephants was coming to invade Mecca or Kaaba?
The historical background of Sura il was to induce the importance of Kaaba and their gods or goddesses. Consequently, many tribes fought with each others on the issue of their gods or in other words, insulting their religions. However, the event of elephant, mentioned in the Quran, was never been transpired anywhere. This was a fable and fairytale to make up mindset of the pagan Arabs. Poets of their time were much impressed by the gigantic size of elephants, but they did not know that the arid terrain of Arabia was not suitable for elephants. The pagan Arab poets did not see or heard about animals larger than elephants. Thus, in order to exaggerate the might of their god Allah or whoever, they composed a poem that their God is almighty and can ruin the biggest thing (power) in the world.
The verses of chapter Fil is clear evidence that these lines have been formulated by man. The lines follow as [Quran 105:1-5]:
- Have you not considered, how your Lord dealt with the companions of the elephant?
- Did He not make their plan into misguidance?
- And He sent against them birds in flocks,
- Striking them with stones of hard clay,
- And He made them like eaten straw.
In these lines, the style of these verses is crystal clear that lines have been made by man to glorify the power of their god/goddess. Readers can observe from here that in some part of Quran Allah says, “I did this, I did that”; sometimes he says, “We did this””; but in these verses, they are going as: “Did he not…”, “And he sent…”, “And he made…” etc.
Had these verses would be revealed by any god, the verse would go like as follows:
- Have you not considered, how We dealt with the companions of the elephant?
- Did We not make their plan into misguidance?
- And We sent against them birds in flocks,
- Striking them with stones of hard clay,
- And I made them like eaten straw.
Now, the edited verses make some sense that it could be revealed by a real God.
Allah made another big blunder in this chapter of the Quran by destroying the army of Abraha in the time of pagan worship in Arabia, because by destroying the army of Abraha, who was coming to destroy the idols and polytheism in the Kaaba, Allah fully supported Polytheists of Mecca to continue in their idolatry and paganism.
It is obvious that Abraha was not interested in Kaaba or any cube-building, but he was coming to destroy the practice of idolatry and polytheism of the pagan Arabs, practiced since unknown time. Abraha and his army, it appears, were monotheists, and were determined to destroy Paganism from Mecca, but Allah intervened and destroyed their filthy plans.